Football

Texas desperate for improvement in turning and finding the football

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There are several problems with Texas’ defense, but creating turnovers doesn’t seem to be among them. The Longhorns are currently tied for 19th in the nation in turnover margin, taking the ball from the opponent 12 times while surrendering it five times.

Ten of those turnovers are via interception, but one position group is notably absent from contributing to that total. Three interceptions have been produced by Texas linebackers. Five have come from safeties.

Only two have been created by Longhorn cornerbacks, and those two came via D’Shawn Jamison at West Virginia. His one-handed interception of Austin Kendall was a highlight play, but it might be one of the few occasions where a Texas cornerback successfully turned around and found the football.

“It’s not been good,” Texas defensive coordinator Todd Orlando said of that skill on Wednesday. “If you see it in practice, you would say to yourself that they make plays. Honestly, we go against some great people. They’ll turn around and find the football. For whatever reason, we get into some of these situations where we get a little bit panicky, we don’t get our head around, and we can’t find the ball.”

Outside of Jamison’s highlight plays, Texas’ corners haven’t been successful all year in turning and finding the ball. Jamison himself was almost burnt for a touchdown against Kansas that only didn’t go for six because the receiver that had beaten his coverage dropped a sure touchdown.

So far, Texas’ corners have been credited with nine passes defended this season. Four have come from Kobe Boyce, three from Jalen Green, and two from Anthony Cook. In comparison, LSU’s starting corners of Derek Stingley and Kristian Fulton have combined for 21 passes defended. Fulton’s total of nine matches the number produced by all Longhorn cornerbacks.

“They’re right there,” Orlando said. “Turn around. They’re making catches down towards their kneecaps. Find the football.”

Orlando claimed Wednesday his defensive backs are often successful at turning and finding the football in practice. He’s seen it happen on Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

It’s yet to occur on Saturday.

“I think it’s all stuff we can practice,” Orlando said. “But I will say this: they do it. They do it in practice. They just have to do it in the game.”

In the coming weeks, Texas’ corners will match up with talented wide receivers like Horned Frogs Jalen Reagor and Tevailance Hunt, Baylor’s Denzel Mims, Texas Tech’s TJ Vasher, and a host of quality pass-catchers that permeate throughout the Big 12.

Texas will have Green available this week, giving the Longhorns their full contingent of sophomore cornerbacks.

They’ll also be facing a passing attack that lacks explosiveness. TCU freshman quarterback Max Duggan has protected the ball well this season, but he only averages 6.2 yards per attempt and 145 yards per game.

He’s yet to turn the ball over via interception. If the Longhorn cornerbacks can force a turnover, it would be a significant event in the game and for the course of the season for Texas’ corners.